Impressions of the Ordination

Joyful expectation was lingering in the air as we prepared for the Sacrament of Ordination. In the week leading up to it, there had been an open course at the Seminary on the theme From Priest Ordination to Priesthood, involving twelve outside participants, six seminary students, and four priests. Participants traveled from places as far away as Germany, Costa Rica, California, Québec, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. As Bastiaan pointed out, the open course participants were not only to witness the receiving of the ordination sacrament, but were preparing through the open course to give something back to the spiritual world, from which the sacrament was coming.

Finally it was Saturday, March 14, the day of the ordination! After we all were seated, about fifteen minutes of silence filled the space before the 16 priests filed in, clothed in vestments, and took their seats on both sides of the altar space. Lisa came out next and took her seat on a bench in the center of the altar space, facing the altar. The celebrant of the ordination, Erzoberlenker Vicke von Behr, followed with two servers who were both priests.

Experiencing the sacrament from the congregation felt extremely humbling, intimate, and sacred. The feeling came that Christ was very, very happy about this ordination and that the divine world was rejoicing because someone else had made it to this point on the path. Now Lisa would be helping to serve Him and was becoming a tool through which He can work and be more present among us.

It was quite powerful to witness the extraordinary individuals (priests) giving their prayers and attention to the ordination candidate, all participating in one sacrament. At one point, their voices resounded simultaneously in affirmation: “Yea, So Be It!” And thus, a new priest was birthed into the world!

On Sunday, experiencing the first Act of Consecration celebrated by Rev. Lisa Hildreth was incredibly beautiful and refreshing. There was a young and pure quality present within the service, together with the feeling that Lisa had been celebrating for a long, long time already. Lisa’s voice was warm, calm, steady, and had a peaceful conviction (despite the full chapel, she did not seem to be swayed!). The peace-greeting at the end of the communion had a loving strength, devotion, and deep peace.

Rev. Vicke von Behr confirmed my feeling that the ordination is indeed a kind of wedding. Through ordination, the priest, in a sense, becomes married to the circle of priests. Vicke left us with a word of advice: “That is the problem with us (human beings) … in sacrificing, there is a little fear that we might vanish.” But in truth, in giving something away, we have not less, but more. There is sacrifice involved in priesthood, he said, but “… it will take nothing away. Your life will become much, much richer.”

To witness the transition of a classmate into priesthood was definitely reassuring … that our training can really lead to a culmination through which a layperson can transform so beautifully into a celebrant! Congratulations, Lisa!

by MELISSA BARTON